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Earlier this year, Baankaahi replaced Jakoi as the restaurant-operator for Assam Bhavan’s public canteen. My previous experience was marked by an elaborate 'Thali' inside faux-bamboo interiors, replete with fairly lights and dangling Jakoi (traditional fishing-shovels used in paddy fields), Baankaahi has done away with most of these adornments. Utpala Mukherjee, who previously ran the YWCA Kitchen, even skips the namesake Baankahi (bell-metal) plates for stainless steel. Instead, she focuses on plating home-style cuisine from across the breadth of Assam. 'Assamese Boras' come in variants of Tilor (earthy sesame), 'Aphu' (poppy seeds) and crunchy 'Gram Flour Coated Narasingha' (curry leaves). My 'Fish Thali' featured a cast of Khar (alkaline raw papaya mash), 'Maach O’tenga' (fish in a runny curry, soured with elephant apple), 'Xaak' (greens), 'Dal', 'Bilahi Pitika' (burnt-tomato chutney), a portion 'Mitha Aloo Pitha' (fried potato dumpling sweetened with jaggery) for dessert and a side of 'Kharoli' (fermented mustard seed chutney), lime and green chilli. On another occasion, I savoured the deep flavours of 'Aran' (pork cooked in black sesame seeds) and 'Sungat Diya Maas' (mutton curry cooked inside a piece of bamboo) with 'Luci' and short-grained 'Assamese Rice' called 'Joha Sawul'.